Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Parthenon on bargain sale!

The following article was published in the press-gr blog, June 27, 2007. This is an unofficial translation for the non-Greek speaking internet user. The english text is uncommented with some footnotes (in yellow fonts) added at the end to help you understand who's behind some names. Re-publishing it does not mean that this blog adopts the truth of its author. Nevertheless it gives a glimpse of the level of corruption in Greece today and tolerance towards it. Enjoy...

The Parthenon on bargain sale!
Evidence for a huge “buried” scandal and a corruption case of 12 million euro
The portable museum e-guides, Siemens and the roles of Latsis, Karamanlis, Lambrakis, Efremoglou, Siopsis, etc…

The OPEP scandal did not just start with Siopsis. The guy was just in a hurry because his previous position at the Secretariat General for Youth had taught him too well the well-known “take-the-money-and-run” rule. Before his, deep in OPEP’s pocket had gone the hands of Mavros, Zahopoulos, Tatoulis, Fani and of course the previous Culture Minister in his own way. Now how this guy Siopsis laid his hand (in OPEP’s strongbox) through Zahopoulos’ commissioner (to OPEP), this could be found if one looks closely to the 12 million euro public competition of bids for the portable e-guides for the country’s biggest museums.

Take a note on this one:
At first, the contest winner was the well-known American company Hewlett Packard -with subcontractor in Greece the Lambrakis Foundation- which had placed a very blur bid. When the American auditors came to check their local affiliate, they discovered a black hole in the cash desk, thus the mother company decided to fire the managing director, considered the number one manager in Greece in 2005 for his successful deals, and some more high ranked employees because they were involved in the case. It also decided to withdraw their bid because they realized they could not carry out such a project and they could not afford it with such high back-handers.

Following Hewllett Packard’s withdrawal, the OPEP people with Siopsis on the wheel proceeded to appoint the project to the second winner, big-time string puller Siemens with subcontractor another notorious institution, Lazaros Efremoglou’s Foundation of Hellenic World , which is handsomely financed up to 100% by EU and state funds. Naturally, there are no coincidences in this story. One has to combine the evidence (easily found from possession reports in annual tax declarations) and search a few years back (around 1977-78) when Efremoglou was founding Ergasias Bank with the generous state assistance. It’s no coincidence that up until 1999 some Karamanlis family members were holding several thousands of shares of a total worth of hundreds of millions of drachmas, which they sold to the Latsis family.

Of course, the Siemens bid was far from being the appropriate one for the archaeological sites, since it was suggesting -among other things- to place an 8-kilometer long optical fiber cable and install 60 antennas inside the Acropolis archaeological site. Fear that archaeologists would have hooted at them, was probably the reason that this bid was not chosen as a winner in the first place…

So, Mr. Siopsis, unreservedly supported by Mr. Zahopoulos, preferred to cover up the truth and accept (illegally and without any control whatsoever) the vague Siemens statements that they would reform the technical proposals in their original bid, so that there would be no major intervention (in the archaeological sites). And all these happened in just two days following summary procedures and of course without Siopsis asking for any expert’s opinion to know if Siemens can deliver the work without such interventions; and most importantly, if it was legal (which it wasn’t) to alter the company’s bid before the two parties signed the agreement. Of course the committee that evaluated the competition bids was appointed by the previous Culture Minister (Tatoulis) and OPEP's chairman (Mavros). Among the committee members there was an academic, under judicial investigation for forgery, and some more guys of the family that could compete for the wizard’s award for being able to prove that there’s daylight at night.

All this happened with complete disregard of our cultural heritage in order to practically sell it off to local private exploiters, like Lambrakis and Efremoglou.

THE PARTHENON IS ON BARGAIN SALE and the money from the deal goes to the pockets of some mischievous guys.

OPEP: Hellenic Culture Organization SA. A subsidiary of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture that is supposedly responsible for the corporate enterprises of the Ministry.
Siopsis: Michalis Siopsis, OPEP chairman since 2006. He is the current Culture Minister’s best-man, a controversial figure from Thessaloniki, with strong political links with the rightwing governing ND party and an obscure business past (rumor has it that his personal business was set up with state money). He served as Secretary General for the Youth during the previous ND government (1990-1993) and his name was involved in numerous money-laundry scandals.
Mavros: George Mavros served as OPEP chairman before Siopsis (2004-2006)
Zahopoulos: Christos Zahopoulos is the Secretary General of the Culture Ministry since 2004. An Archaeology professor from Thessaloniki with strong ties with the Church and the prime minister’s wife Natasha Karamanli.
Tatoulis: Petros Tatoulis, a physician from Arcadia, served as a deputy culture minister from 2004 to 2006 under PM Kostas Karamanlis who had been also holding the office of the culture minister during the same period. Tatoulis appointed Mavros at OPEP’s leadership.
Fani: Fani Palli-Petralia was a deputy minister for culture responsible for the sports during the same period of Tatoulis’ office. She is currently minister for Tourism.
…previous Culture Minister: a reference to Evangelos Venizelos, a leading political figure of PASOK Socialist party (considered a rival to PASOK’s chairman George Papandreou these days), who served as a Culture Minister for several years during the previous social democrat governments and until 2004. OPEP was founded and set up under his ministership.
Zahopoulos’ commissioner: a possible reference to Nikos Nikolakopoulos, appointed by the Ministry of Culture as an OPEP “book-keeper.” A bank employee in profession, with family ties to the previous deputy culture minister Mrs Fani Pali-Petralia.
Karamanlis: late Konstantinos Karamanlis, a Greek statesman and rightwing politician, several times prime minister and finally a President of the Republic.
Latsis: John Latsis (died in 2003) was the founder of a business empire, ranked among the world's richest people (in 2006 the family business ranked 51st by Forbes on the World's Billionaires list at US$9.1 billion). The family's largest holding is its EFG Bank European Financial Group, a large banking conglomerate with private banking operations in many jurisdictions.